Six people charged for stealing more than $336K from PA agency
HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced felony charges against six people who used fake businesses to fraudulently siphon more than $336,000 in grant funds from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development’s Guaranteed Free Training Program.
The ring, led by John Marino, of Stroudsburg, used five Pennsylvania shell companies to apply for and receive state grants for workforce training. The defendants are charged with dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity, corrupt organizations, criminal conspiracy, theft by deception, tampering with public records and other felony and misdemeanor offenses.
“This is a case of six individuals scamming a state government program out of hundreds of thousands of tax dollars,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “These funds were supposed to invest in Pennsylvania’s workforce – offering job training to deserving companies and employees. We’ll go after this kind of corruption and criminals who steal from government programs wherever we find it.”
Between December 2012 and February 2016, the six defendants submitted 38 invoices to the Workforce and Economic Development Network of Pennsylvania for Guaranteed Free Training Program (GFTP) reimbursement totaling $336,023. An additional four invoices were submitted for $59,426, but were denied because the fraud was discovered.
These defendants, many of whom are related by family or marriage, were charged:
- John Marino, 56, of Rimrock Drive, Stroudsburg
- Donna Marino, 58, of Rimrock Drive, Stroudsburg
- Kinchasa Donald, 38, of Osprey Court, East Stroudsburg
- Lovell Rodgers, 53, of Winding Way, Tobyhanna
- Patricia McCue, 67, of Prall Street, Staten Island, NY
- Darren Donald, 47, of Osprey Court, East Stroudsburg
The defendants claimed to be executives and managers of five companies that fraudulently applied for and received state grant money. Although the companies listed are registered with the PA Department of State, none have any employees or conduct any type of business:
- YKT Corp
- Pocono Developers
- R 1 Incorporated
- Top Don Tools
- Tamray Technologies
In the spring of 2016, grant program administrators became suspicious of large invoices for GFTP grants being paid to two of the fake companies, YKT Corp and Pocono Developers. Upon investigation, Workforce and Economic Development Network of Pennsylvania discovered that the invoices submitted, which were purportedly received from vendors who provided employee training, were all counterfeit.
Through the use of Internet Protocol (IP) address tracking, agents discovered the same IP address was used by YKT Corp and Pocono Developers to electronically communicate with the Workforce and Economic Development Network. The IP address belonged to John Marino. Investigators also established the same computer was used to apply for and receive GFTP grants for R 1 Incorporated, Top Don Tools and Tamray Technologies.
YKT and Pocono Developers claimed 138 employees received job training. However, employee information provided by the Department of Labor and Industry revealed that YKT Corp and Pocono Developers actually had no employees.
A search warrant executed last July found no evidence indicating any type of legitimate business activity for any of the five companies, such as tax records, personnel files or customer information.
John and Donna Marino, as well as Donna’s daughter, Kinchasa Donald, were also charged with welfare fraud, after agents learned they had been receiving public assistance since at least April 2012. To qualify for welfare, a recipient’s assets cannot exceed $1,000. Agents executing a search warrant at the Marino home in 2017 observed their home to be large, well-furnished and stocked with expensive electronic devices, including computer equipment worth more than $7,000. Their two fake businesses received more than $256,000 in state government grants over a three-year period.
Bail for Marino and his co-conspirators was set at $50,000 unsecured each. A preliminary hearing for all six defendants is scheduled for May 23. The case will be prosecuted by Senior Deputy Attorney General Bernard Anderson.
Source: Office of Attorney General